So Friday morning begins with a trip to El Corte Ingles to secure a USB to lightning cable. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Spain without at some point setting foot in the country’s prime department store. It delivered what I needed on the seventh floor – escalators all the way I’m pleased to say. Next on the agenda was to follow the advice given me on Wednesday evening and book a guided tour of the Palau de la Musica Catalana – all sorted for 11:30 tomorrow.

Next stop the Museu Picasso Barcelona – also free with Barca Card but they make you get a paper ticket from the box office as well. I’ve been here a couple of times before and while there’s always a good selection of Picasso’s paintings, prints and ceramics there is a major exhibition as well. This one is devoted to David-Henry Kahnweiler the German born dealer, collector and patron who did much to launch the careers of Picasso, Braque and Juan Gris.

Kahnweiler was quick to spot the movement that would become cubism and established a tiny gallery (four square metres) at the age of 23 where he exhibited early works by the then unknown Picasso, Braque, Leger, van Dongen and Vlaminck. He was friends with all of them and made good sales to kickstart their careers. As a German he had to go into exile in Switzerland during the First World War. He was considered an alien and his entire collection was sold by the French authorities in auctions at the Hotel Drouot. The sale catalogues make for interesting reading and a comprehensive listing of early twentieth century art.

Picasso sketching Kahnweiler, one of the photos in the exhibition.

There were works by many of his protégés and details of weekly soirées at Bourgogne-Billancourt where he entertained artists and potential purchasers. Picasso once wrote, ‘Where would we all be without Kahnweiler’s sense of business?’ I found it all fascinating, so much so that I took no photos – sorry. That is until I came to the huge room devoted to Picasso’s deconstruction of Velazquez’s Las Meninas. He made a series of over 50 paintings in which he analysed and recreated aspects of the famous work. This is my favourite. I love his self-portrait at the bottom right and the dog and the use of many images of his familiar iconography that find no place in the original.

After nearly three hours it’s time for some lunch. Everywhere in this area – the Born – will be expensive as it’s a major tourist attraction. However I find a corner in a popular venue and emerge refreshed. The Messi shirt shows that Argentina’s captain is still much loved in Barca. I was also surprised to find a flight of Japanese kites in an adjacent courtyard.

A few metres along Calle Moncada is a Museum new to me – MOCO. It has a branch in Amsterdam and opened in Barcelona in 2016 and I haven’t been here since before then. It’s devoted to MOdern/COntemporary artworks and features Keith Haring, Julien Opie, Damien Hirst, Dali and Banksy as well as less familiar local names. I did take a few photos here.

As I’m quite a way down in the old part of the city I think it’s time to see the sea – well at least Barcelona harbour. As it’s Christmas time there are lots of tacky amusements on offer spoiling (for curmudgeonly me) a stroll along the waterfront. But there are some highlights. Graphics have always been wacky here since the Olympics, there’s always one seagull that won’t conform and I enjoyed the peace of the sun going down across the harbour looking out to the World Trade Centre where we filmed material for a promotional video for the Direct English franchise several years ago. All of course under the watchful gaze of Cristobal Colon.

One thought on “Culture magpie

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